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Jenni Williams

Jenni Williams

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
International Women of Courage Award

Williams was given the US government's International Women of Courage Award in 2007 for "providing an example of courage and leadership by working for change through peaceful and nonviolent means". The award was presented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The Observer - Article

Freedom campaigner Jenni Williams is a persistent thorn in the side of the Zimbabwean dictator. She tells Elizabeth Day from The Observer about her shocking experiences of police brutality and jail - and how the fight for justice has meant sacrificing a normal family life

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award

In 2009 Jenni Williams and Woza co-leader Magodonga Mahlangu were awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, which was presented by US President Barack Obama. At the ceremony, Obama said that the pair had "shown the women of Woza and the people of Zimbabwe that they can undermine their oppressors' power with their own power - that they can sap a dictator's strength with their own".

Amnesty International's Ginetta Sagan Fund prize

On International Women's Day 2012, Williams was awarded Amnesty International's Ginetta Sagan Fund prize, which recognizes women "who are working to protect the liberty and lives of women and children in areas where human rights violations are widespread". The award was given in recognition of her work "to inspire and educate women to embrace and demand their human and civil rights in Zimbabwe".

But I think what gives us the commitment to continue to do the things we do is that we speak 100% the truth, and we speak it from the moral authority that we are the mothers of the nation, and if your mother cannot speak out on your behalf then you have no one that will speak for you. So that is why we are committed to doing this: because we want a better future for our children

Jenni Williams is a prominent human rights defender, and is a founding member and National Coordinator of the Zimbabwean womens' rights organisation, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), one of the most active civil society organizations in protesting government abuses in Zimbabwe. Ms. Williams has suffered arrest, harassment, and physical abuse. By uniting women in Zimbabwe of all races and ethnic backgrounds to advocate for issues directly affecting them, she has brought social, economic and political issues to national attention. Ms. Williams and WOZA lead annual peaceful marches on Valentine's Day and Mother's Day to promote peace and development. These marches have led to the mass arrest of peaceful women who are seen as threatening to the Government of Zimbabwe, but the women remain undeterred. Ms. Williams and the organisation she founded have provided an example of courage and leadership by working for change through peaceful and nonviolent means

Despite the challenges faced, the human rights defenders community in Zimbabwe is well organised, active and broad-based in terms of issues and actors involved. It includes NGOs, faith-based groups, human rights lawyers, student activists, social movements, community-level activists, trade unionists and members of the political opposition. Womens’ rights defenders are prominent.


Jenni Williams